Pebble Technology, the Kickstarter-funded wristwatch company, announced its third-generation smartwatch Tuesday.
The Palo Alto company took to the crowdfunding platform to announce the Pebble Time, a computerized watch with a slimmer design and longer battery life compared with its current model, and a color e-paper display where the screen mimics ink on paper. It also has a microphone for responding to incoming messages and recording voice memos, and new software (including fitness tracking) built around the idea of a continuous timeline instead of having to open individual apps.
Pebble Technology Chief Executive Eric Migicovsky said in the company's Kickstarter launch video that the reason Pebble was turning to crowdfunding again was because it wanted to give the Kickstarter community -- which helped the company get off the ground three years ago -- first dibs on the new watch.
The smartwatch announcement came in the form of a new Kickstarter campaign in which Pebble was hoping to raise $500,000 (a goal it surpassed in less than half an hour of the campaign going live). Creators generally turn to Kickstarter to raise the money required to bring an idea to life. In Pebble's case, the watch is already near completion. When asked what the company planned to do with the funds, Migicovsky said, "We are laser-focused on bringing the watches to the Kickstarter community first. It's not about the money."
Early supporters can "back" the watch starting at $159, which equates to a pre-order for the device.
Kickstarter backers are scheduled to receive their watches in May, a month after Apple is expected to launch its own smartwatch, the Apple Watch. The Pebble Time is expected to hit retailers later in the year for $199.
While Apple might beat the Pebble Time to market, the price difference could still draw customers to Pebble. At its full retail price, the Pebble Time is 40% less than the Apple Watch's starting price of $349.
Pebble Technologies first turned to Kickstarter in 2012 to raise funds to develop the original Pebble smartwatch. It had set a fundraising target of $100,000, which it exceeded by 100 times, raising more than $10 million from supporters.